Israeli army continues attacks in Gaza amid mediation efforts to reach cease-fire

Israeli army continues attacks in Gaza amid mediation efforts to reach cease-fire

Attacks come as mediators continue efforts to reach cease-fire deal between Israel, Hamas in Gaza

By Abdelraouf Arnaout

JERUSALEM (AA) – The Israeli army pressed ahead with its military offensive in the southern and central Gaza Strip on Thursday amid efforts to reach a cease-fire in the battered enclave.

In a statement, the army said that its Division 162 continues to operate in Rafah in southern Gaza.

Israeli warplanes struck a rocket launcher in the city and killed several Palestinian gunmen, a military statement said.

The military said ten gunmen were also killed by the army’s Division 99 in attacks in the central Gaza Strip.

The attacks came as mediators Egypt and Qatar continued efforts to reach a cease-fire and hostage swap deal between Hamas and Israel.

Israel and Hamas traded accusations in recent hours of obstructing the implementation of a cease-fire proposal outlined by US President Joe Biden last month.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had "reaffirmed his commitment" to a Gaza cease-fire proposal during their meeting on Monday evening.

Netanyahu or any member of his government has not publicly welcomed the proposal.

On Wednesday, Hamas accused Blinken of seeking to exonerate Israel from obstructing the cease-fire deal, saying it dealt “positively” and “responsibly” with all proposals to reach a cease-fire in Gaza and release all detainees.

Israel has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7, 2023 attack by Hamas despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire.

More than 37,200 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, and more than 84,900 others injured, according to local health authorities.

Eight months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, whose latest ruling ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its operation in Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on May 6.

*Writing by Ahmed Asmar

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